NGT asks Agra Div Comm to provide data on trees near Taj Mahal

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New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has directed the Divisional Commissioner of Agra to provide information on the trees planted in the eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) near the historic Taj Mahal.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the officer to provide necessary data within three weeks to advocate M C Mehta, who has been appointed as local commissioner to probe the alleged illegal felling and sale of 4,000 trees in the area.

The green panel also directed Mehta to submit the final report on the tree-felling incidents before July 10.

The NGT had earlier directed the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no unauthorised construction activities are permitted and no trees cut in the eco-sensitive zone near the Taj Mahal.

It had asked the state government to conduct physical demarcation of the forest area and the green belt within 500 metres of the Taj Tapezium Zone.

The green panel had also directed that the demarcation activity shall be executed in the presence of representative from Forest Survey of India and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute.

The tribunal had earlier directed an inquiry into the alleged illegal felling and sale of 4,000 trees after taking note of a media report and issued notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Uttar Pradesh government.

The green body had taken cognisance of the case on its own after going through a media report.

According to the report, a former Agra Divisional Forest Officer had allegedly cut 8,000 trees in Babarpur and around 4,000 trees in 500-metre-radius of the Taj Mahal, which is an eco-sensitive zone.

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